The Supreme Court has agreed to examine whether gold smuggling can be considered a terrorist act under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). Earlier in February, the Kerala High Court had held that the mere act of gold smuggling, which is covered under the Customs Act, does not amount to a “terrorist act” under the UAPA, unless it is done with the intention to threaten the economic security of the nation. The Supreme Court will look into the Kerala High Court order, which granted bail to the 12 accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case.
What is a terrorist act under the UAPA?
A terrorist act is any act done with the intention to threaten India’s unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty, or to terrorise people in India or any foreign country. This includes acts which are likely to damage India’s monetary stability by producing, smuggling or circulating high quality counterfeit Indian paper currency, coin or any other material.
How does the government regulate terrorist activities?
If the Central government believes that a person or organisation is involved in terrorism, it can notify them in the official Gazette as a terrorist or terrorist organization respectively.
The concerned person or organization can apply to the government to denotify them. If the government refuses, they can apply for a review to the concerned Review Committee within one month. The Review Committee can order the government to denotify them.
What are the punishments for terrorist acts?
|Terrorist Activities||If it results in death – Punishable with life imprisonment or death, along with a fine
In any other case – Punishable with jail time between five years and life imprisonment, along with a fine
|Raising funds for terrorist acts||Jail time between five years and life imprisonment, along with a fine|
|Associating with or Supporting a Terrorist Organization||Jail time up to ten years and/or a fine|
|Being a Member of a Terrorist Gang or Organization||Jail time up to life imprisonment and a fine|
|Raising funds for a Terrorist Organization||Jail time up to fourteen years and/or a fine|
|Holding Proceeds of Terrorism||Jail time up to life imprisonment and a fine|
Can a person accused of a terrorist act get bail?
The UAPA has special bail conditions for a person accused of being involved in a terrorist activity or involved with a terrorist organisation. The accused cannot get bail:
- Unless the government’s lawyer has heard the bail application.
- If the court thinks that there is a reasonable possibility that they committed the offence that they have been accused of.
Further, if a UAPA offence is committed by a person who is not an Indian citizen, or a person who has entered India illegally, the court will not give bail. Such a person can get bail only in very exceptional circumstances and the court must record the reasons for granting bail.
However, the Supreme Court has held that violation of the fundamental right to a speedy trial is a ground for the constitutional court to grant bail in UAPA cases.